Understanding Brand Perception Through Social Media

A recent research report published by OMG found that a staggering 65% of Indians tend to follow one or more brands on social media

When we talk about delivering superlative results for clients and truly making the leap at every juncture, perhaps the most important aspect for us as a communications planning and media buying agency is a thorough understanding of the audience. And to truly understand the audience, it’s imperative to understand the platforms that they are most active on and to use these very platforms as a means to identify how the audience perceives brands.

Social media’s presence is felt even beyond social media channels

A recent research report published by OMG that covered consumer habits and media consumption trends in the run up to the festive season, found that a staggering 65% of Indians tend to follow one or more brands on social media. Rather than only coming into contact with brands through hoardings, TVCs or digital ads, people are now voluntarily and actively making contact with brands of their own accord. While, of course, the top reasons were to keep track of brand updates and product launches, some of the other reasons included the ability to find likeminded communities and even the affinity towards platforms for sharing personal experiences. The sheer numbers and the reasons behind these numbers, are enough to highlight social media as a powerful tool for consumer insights and audience understanding.

At OMG, we also found that the average cumulative time spent by Indians on social media is two and a half hours per day, with Facebook and Instagram coming out on top. Clearly, with so much time being spent on these platforms, users are exposed to a lot of content. As you scroll down your feeds, it only takes about a mere second to double tap a post or to long-press and add a reaction. While engagement rates and reactions have been an integral part of the social media game for a while now, what I’m emphasising here is that this is a treasure trove of knowledge for agencies like PHD Media, simply because these metrics can give us a picture of how a client is perceived. When we as communication strategists know that the audience at large appreciates something about the brand, we know how to leverage it across communication channels. On the other hand, social media metrics can also help us understand what may be perceived as problematic by the audience.

These insights provide a real-time method of tweaking and fine-tuning our media planning approach even if the actual execution has nothing to do with social. Because these are responses straight from the handles of consumers and there can be nothing more telling than a post with a hundred negative comments, or a post that has double the number of “loves” than “likes”.

Listening in for more than just social media engagement metrics

It’s not just the regular social media metrics that can prove insightful for brands and A&M professionals, it’s also active and thorough social listening. Right from the what to the who – Social listening information gives you real-time data on what kind of a conversation is happening around your brand and on who seem to be the most active proponents and opponents of your brand. Not only does this help to understand the larger brand perception, it can even help you narrow in on just the right influencers to associate with for a given client.

And your insight mining can go even beyond this. According to the same media consumption study mentioned above, another reason given by people who follow brands online was that together with the brand, these consumers support a social cause. 

In this vein, social listening can come in handy to understand what a brand needs to talk more about. For instance, a brand of legacy products that perhaps thrives on its reputation and on the consistent quality of its products, may not be able to talk much about product innovations and new launches, but via social listening and audience understanding, can focus their communications efforts on CSR initiatives, internal programs for their workforce, thereby making their consumer connect more people-oriented than product-oriented.

The ultimate bottom-line is, that when there is so much organically available information about what the audience feels about a brand, its competitors and even the industry as a whole, it becomes crucial to excel in the analysis of data and in the execution of data-based action. There is a plethora of social listening tools available, but how deeply and skilfully the resultant data is interpreted and how deftly the consequent strategy is charted, is all up to media and communications professionals. After all, social media can you give you insights that can be leveraged even beyond the social media realm itself.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.